Cardiff City lost 2-0 to Derby County at Cardiff City Stadium as Tom Ince's strike and Nick Blackman's penalty - which also saw Matt Connolly dismissed - secured three points for the Rams.
The game began in an even fashion with both teams looking to assert their dominance in the middle of the park. City’s first chance arrived when Rickie Lambert stung the palms of Scott Carson in the Derby goal with a rasping drive from outside of the area. Lambert was forced off minutes later and replaced by Kenneth Zohore up front.
The Rams were posing a threat of their own, however, and went close twice midway through the half. Firstly, Craig Noone showed great commitment to block Will Hughes’ stinging effort. Shortly after that, Ben Amos was called into action, saving first from Tom Ince and then keeping out the follow-up effort.
City were controlling the game with half time approaching. A classic Peter Whittingham corner found the head of Sean Morrison, but the captain’s effort was well saved by Carson. Seconds later, Joe Ralls fired an effort wide of the post from a tantalising position. Both teams continued to push for the opener but no further chances were created before the half time whistle blew.
The second period started in a similar vein to the first with the sides taking it in turns to mount attacks. Derby went close just after the fifty minute mark; Tom Ince carried the ball into the area before unleashing a powerful drive that was well saved by Amos.
Ince was not to be denied, however, and put his team in front soon after, drilling a shot that Amos could not prevent nestling in the corner of the net despite his best efforts. The set back didn’t dent the Bluebirds’ confidence and they almost equalised immediately when Morrison had another great headed chance, but the big centre back saw his effort whistle past the post.
Cardiff continued to push as the half wore on and were playing some nice stuff around the Rams’ penalty area, but they were struggling to create clear cut chances. Kadeem Harris had been introduced just before the hour mark and his pace was causing problems down the left hand side.
With around ten minutes to go Derby struck the killer blow. Substitute Nick Blackman was sent through on goal, but just as he was about to pull the trigger he was brought down by Matt Connolly. The referee immediately pointed to the spot and showed the City defender a red card. Blackman picked himself up and fired his spot kick into the back of the net to seal a 2-0 victory for the Rams.
FINAL SCORE: CARDIFF CITY 0-2 DERBY COUNTY
Scorers: Ince 55’, Blackman 80’
Red Card: Connolly 80'
Cardiff City: Amos, John, Morrison, Connolly, Richards, Whittingham, Ralls (Harris 59’), Noone, Immers (Manga 85’) Pilkington, Lambert (Zohore 13’).
Subs not used: Wilson, Ajayi, Kennedy, Huws.
Derby County: Carson, Christie, Keogh, Pearce, Lowe, Anya (Weimann 90’) Hughes, Johnson, Butterfield, Ince (Russell 84’), Vydra (Blackman 76’).
Subs not used: Mitchell, Bent, Baird, Wilson.